A press-pack

Above: A press-pack assail a subject with a media scrum. Credit: PA.

Photo Corps

The Press Corps moves as an assembled pack--a media scrum--and has two main modes of attack. First come the Reporter Corps, armed with microphones--twenty, thirty, sometimes fifty mics. These will be angled towards the subject--thrust outwards hopefully under the respondents nose or placed ad hoc on a table in front of the subject. The reporter's microphone will record whatever the subject has to say; whatever it is, any words at all that come-out-of-their-mouth will be recorded by all. The second mode of attack is from the Photo Corps. This group is armed with DSLR cameras mounted with flashguns. As soon as the subject arrives within shooting range their barrage is set-off: an onslaught of strobing-blinding bright flashes which do not stop until it is announced that they are from now on forbidden (a truce), or the subject moves out of range again. If a person becomes the subject of a breaking news story, or is caught up in a breaking-news story, the Press Corps will begin to gather and prepare for their initial offensive. Once a media-storm has begun there is no instant means by which to cause hostilities to cease. The reporters are tenacious, dogged, determined, resolute, persistent and staunch. And they will not recede until they have got their statement, and a set of photos. This is how things are in the West. If a person finds themself at the centre of a news-story then they must understand that they are going to be doorstepped to the nth degree until each reporter and each photojournalist has got something usable. It's a convention that took-hold after WWII. In the UK, the media scrum has been a basic component of news-gathering since at least Beatlemania, in the early-1960s.

I think those who participate in media scrums are guilty of dehumanizing their subject. The activity is a form of assault--it's a brutal and relentless attack.

The media scrum is a good example of the psychopathic and sadistic behaviour which, for Ballard, is increasingly "tolerated and annexed into normal life," with the consequence and general effect being, "to normalize the deviant and perverse."

(15 February 2019)